#MABLE: Author Interview with Mark Millicent

You’re all cordially invited to join in the fun of the Massive Autumn Book Launch Event (#MABLE) organised by my publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing. The books in the event are hugely discounted, so it’s a great opportunity to try some new and exciting fiction. It began on 17th September and runs to 31st October. And you can sign up to join in the fun here.

I’m posting interviews with the authors here during the event. This one is with Mark Millicent:

Mark Millicent is a UK writer and illustrator originally from Cheshire he is based in the USA. He works in the advertising and film world of Los Angeles living by a lake in the Santa Monica Mountains with his wife and family, a cat, a peacock, along with several rather destructive squirrels.

1.         Did some specific event trigger the creation of (title of your book) or, alternatively, was this a project you’d been considering for some time?

Thanks for the opportunity to answer these few questions, Stuart. This book was born out of an idea to have it as a bonus “The making of.” It was going to be marketed with the Movie: what movie you say? I’ll tell you; FIZZY DAYS was the movie that my book is based on. It was in the making for a very long time!

FIZZY DAYS AND PLASTIC MONKEYS FROM CREWE TO MALIBU, Is the chronicle of trying to get that movie made. My book is about growing up in the 70s UK, moving to London then on to the USA. Finally making a movie. How do you do that? There is no set path or plan?  Here’s my route. With a little back story. The 80s 90s and 2000s were all good times to be creative. These are the decades I inhabited to get here. One year turned into two, two into four, you get the idea until we had a few decades under the hood in my quest for silver screen immortality – to make this movie. I already worked in Hollywood should be easy right? I wrote it all down.

 I was going to make my film FIZZY DAYS. Ever wondered what it would be like to try and make a movie and see your work on the big screen? I’d been in ‘the business’ all my working life, I drew movies for filmed content. I was a storyboarder – a guy who draws storyboards as a visual storyteller! I made a leap toward movie-making success. This novel is about my leap. My leap has lasted a little longer than I expected and truth be told I’m still leaping, but I expect to land soon. It all started years ago but here we are today now in post-COVID. I wrote a bunch of scripts and won some awards. I made a bestselling pilot and short film to showcase my perspective feature product and how it was going to look on the big screen. It’s an alchemy to get a script into production.

How everyone is a producer, a writer, a director, an actor, an agent, a lawyer, or a colonoscopist. Fate is fickle and luck is mercurial, but most of all it’s a ‘never give in’ ‘never surrender,’ persist until you die, kind of tale.

2.         Most works of fiction have themes either at their heart or subtly roving beneath the surface for the more analytical reader; what were your themes here, and why do they matter to you?

It’s not fiction at all. Maybe some of it I wish was! It’s an autobiographical account of growing up in the midlands moving to London then on to America – and my involvement in an Indie film project about a moped (a Fizzy). The original script was loosely based on my misspent teen years. The book is more about my post-teen years. I moved to London in my early 20s in the 80s from up north. I worked right in the middle of London with some good advertising and film people. People of notable film pedigree. People in London encouraged me to go to America, where they make movies like meat pies! Go and spread your wings, and meet Hollywood people, they’ll be willing to share some info on how to get ahead! So I did. It’s a sort of ‘From Here to Eternity in ‘Hollywood – land,’ a memoir and cautionary tale. It may appeal to the pop culture nostalgia gang or people that are just maybe interested to read my story of how many hurdles and pitfalls there are to producing and trying to raise finance and interest in a small independent movie. Hopefully told with a smirk and a sense of humor.

3.         Is this your first created book or do you have others both published and/or awaiting publication?

I have a book that I illustrated with Fantastic already, ‘My Socks have Gone Bonkers’ by Dale Neal (he’s very Funny!) FIZZY DAYS AND PLASTIC MONKEYS-  FROM CREWE TO MALIBU is my first novel-length book. I am working on another that is similarly autobiographical, similar page count – but is more nature-based. In the years I have been writing it and re-writing it, the market seems somewhat flooded with nature-themed books at present, especially in the UK. I have a few illustrated poetry collection books, some of the individual poems have been published in various literary journals here and in the US. I have a few children’s books that I have written and illustrated too. I wrote a bunch of screenplays prior and won some awards. I made a bestselling pilot and short film to showcase my proposed product and how it was going to look on the big screen based on my script FIZZY DAYS. And this is the content and theme of this book.

4.         When did you start writing and what prompted you to choose words as your creative medium?

I’m actually a visual storyteller. A storyboard artist – it’s the only job I have really done since my early 20s. I tell stories with pictures. I draw the visuals for other people’s stories.  Mapping out shots of what is to be filmed in front of the camera.  In my line of work, I get to read a lot of other people’s scripts and construct what they would look like visually.  So it seemed a natural progression to write a few of my own stories and paint some pictures with words, let’s see how that goes. I started writing scripts in the USA. It’s mandatory if you live here in Los Angeles, everyone does it!  I managed to get a couple of options and awards so I thought hey, I can have a serious go at this. They never much went further, but I developed the writing bug, or should that be sickness…?

One of Mark’s Storyboards from his website.

5.         To what extent does genre guide your treatment of story/subject?

Humor is a genre I admire and appreciate, we all like a good laugh don’t we! I appreciate good humor; funny stuff that genuinely makes you laugh, which living here in the United States is sometimes in short supply. I have genuinely found that to be one of the elements I miss most living here in the USA, it’s humor along with an affordable healthcare system! Oh, and lately the political system leaves a lot to be desired. But yes humor, the genre here is so different – the English sense of humor is unique. There is no such thing here as a Carry-On film and I really can’t think of an American Eddie Izzard. There are funny US productions – but it’s world apart generally for me.

6.         How do you feel about ‘experimental’ literature? Have you ever employed an approach that might be seen as experimental?


7.         Do you plot, or are you a ‘pantster’ writing without a definite plan, and why do you use this method of construction?

I don’t know if I’m a pantster… I might be a pantster? I think like a lot of people I keep a sketchbook of notes pictures and words. This is like a magic box to dip into and collate to see what bigger tapestry might be created with the collected parts and pieces. Silly stuff you hear in everyday interactions. Sometimes you can’t make the stuff up that you may overhear in the pub, supermarket line, or on the bus.  Sometimes there is nothing stranger than the truth. An example would be one of the funniest things I heard that springs to mind were two women talking graphically behind me about one’s infidelity with her friend’s husband. They obviously were well acquainted and had decided to confront each other over this issue in public in front of strangers as we lined up at an ATM machine in downtown LA. It all got messy and I took many notes!

8.         What, if any, input did you have in the design of the book cover, and is such collaboration important to you?

Yes, very much so. Who doesn’t want to go out into the big wide world looking their best! Having a background in media and design – it was important to me that the cover works. I made a few notes and created some ideas that I sent over to Fantastic. Fantastic helped to do a great job and ultimately come up with a clean and striking cover image that I think works very well. Subsequently, FIZZY DAYS AND PLASTIC MONKEYS – FROM CREWE TO MALIBU will look good visually on anyone’s bookshelf!

9.         English is a temperamental language; how important is it for an author to understand its rules?

This is my first book so I’m not sure how qualified I am to answer this. Rather than rules, I think content, and ‘funny’, and an interesting storyline make the meat of a worthwhile project. Obviously, a publisher doesn’t want to wade through something that needs a lot of work and that distracts immediately from the tale being told.  I guess you at least need to tread a middle ground – maybe read a lot, take a few classes, devour a few study guides and of course, write a lot! There are editors to clean your words up! You can always pay someone to put what you have written within the rules. As long as it’s worth reading or watching and it entertains.  Is it good? – not is it grammatically perfect.  Does it entertain? That’s my take at least- as I said this is my first book maybe that will change. I remember reading an article quoting the producer Trudy Styler talking about Guy Richie’s script submission for SNATCH or it might have been LOCK STOCK, and how riddled with errors, both formatting, and grammar it was. But the bones were there and it was bloody funny – an excellent funny story with superb dialogue and characters that made a great movie. It is great that it wasn’t dismissed because of poor grammar, and technical imperfections.

10.       Finally, bearing in mind the wide choice of self-publishing platforms now available, what made you choose Fantastic Books Publishing as your route to the reading public?

I had illustrated a book for a friend of mine as I mentioned – Dale Neal his book is published by Fantastic, MY SOCKS HAVE GONE BONKERS– Dale had had a small part in my short film, and he suggested I approach Fantastic with my manuscript. I never wanted to try the self-publishing route – it’s a sort of validation thing for me. That is not to say there are not many great books self-published out there, but it was a goal I had set for myself and just my own opinion.

My review of Fizzy Days and Plastic Monkeys – From Crewe to Malibu
Reviews of Fizzy Days and Plastic Monkeys – From Crewe to Malibu on Goodreads
Reviews of Fizzy Days and Plastic Monkeys – From Crewe to Malibu on Amazon
Penny Ponders – A view from Penny Grubb
Feature from Nantwich News

2 thoughts on “#MABLE: Author Interview with Mark Millicent

  1. mph26

    This interview was reassuring. Mark’s observations about the book told me that I’d been right on the button about his attitude to writing it: “it’s a ‘never give in’ ‘never surrender,’ persist until you die, kind of tale… told with a smirk and a sense of humour”. Yes, that’s exactly as I read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spot on, mph22. I agree. It’s a fascinating read that also exposes the real tribulations involved in trying to get a book into the film world.


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